This year I spent £8 on a copy of Dragon, the poorly animated story of Bruce Lee for the SNES, I spent £30 on a copy of the Zelda promotional collection for the Game Cube and £15 on a copy of Probotector (thatís Contra to people across the pond) for the NES.
To the right people, retro games are big business.
With video games getting more and more coverage, and the origin stories of the characters going under more and more scrutiny, the history of games has taken more of a front page. Bastions of the retro area such as the Angry Video Game Nerd and the Completionist (actually everyone at screwattack.com) have an established viewership that promotes and celebrates the retro game. There are more gamers than ever before and there are more people for whom games are an integral part of them, and like movies, there are games we grew up with, games we cherish and games weíve missed out on.†
PSN, Xbla and PC providers like Steam and Good Old Games do a great job of plugging this retro gap, but for every PS2 classic there are more than a few missing. †Despite the stellar selection of Indie games on Xbla the Xbox brand just hasnít been around long enough to carve an identity the way Playstation and Nintendo have. And while the PC market has so many classics, there are definitive IPís that were introduced and now remain on console.
Which leaves us with Nintendoís duel screen gem and the dust gatherer the Wii in the form of the Virtual Shop. The selection of retro games available is a staggering number, a brief glance there are stone cold classics such as The Legend of Zelda(£120 boxed cartridge) and Kirbyís Adventure(£20) as well as more unique but equally sought after titles such as Wild Guns(£250) and Indiana Jonesí Greatest Adventures(£40). †These are available for a few pounds, nothing compared to the hundreds of pounds you would need to pay for the software and the hardware if you could find it.
†The selection never ceases to impress, newer additions like Megaman X(£40) and Super Mario Bros 3(£10) are definite classics that all gamers should at least have a play of. More remarkable is Nintendoís commitment to releasing these titles (albeit not as quickly as weíd like) so while we moan that Earthbound(£45) took forever to be released, Iím still waiting with baited breath to re-play The Suffering or Alien Hominid on PSN without having to wire up Olí faithful and splice an HTMI cable.
Thatís by no means to say there arenít glaring holes in the Virtual Console. The lack of Gamecube and N64 titles is a sore point particularly with the added power that the Wii U has over the original Wii. And an affordable version of MGS: Twin Snakes(£40) or Conkers Bad Fur day(£60) would shift more than a few units.
So we may bemoan Nintendoís latest offering as a childís console, and the lack of AAA software is a thorn in its side. But with the PS4 and the Xbox One looking more and more generic and predicable, marred with release issues and little in the way of fresh IP, the Wii U as a retro console becomes a tempting offer. Nothing will replace the joy of a cartridge collection, but if itís the actual GAMES you want then consider the Wii U. †With Nintendo and Sega classics by the butt load as well as 3[sup]rd[/sup] party exclusives you can save a fortune and experience several generations of classic Video games.
Do your homework and grab a collection of classics, and maybe see why Old schoolers still bang on about Super Metroid(£40), Golden Axe(£10) and Zombies! Ate my neighbours (£30) it might just be the best £200 youíve ever spent. †††